Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sponsored by The Man

In my ongoing search for mama-and-baby activities for Bean and I to do together that don't involve her spending a lot of time in shopping carts and me making up things I "need" to shop for, I've run across something that I'm pretty sure is a new and uniquely American event: the playgroup or story time held inside a retail store.

I'm not talking about someone reading stories to little ones at the local bookstore. Personally, I still think of bookstores as something other than a retail category and more of a...I don't know, a sanctuary of sorts. Something more worthy than just a store somehow. The creepiness I'm talking about is Pottery Barn Kids holding a playgroup where a clown is invited, and afterwards kids are permitted to frolic in the store's play area--all the toys in which are for sale, of course. And for a pretty big chunk of cash.

Then there are those Gymboree play center classes that are admittedly separate from their kids' clothing stores, but which include the singing of songs about "Gymbo" the clown, sung to the tune of "Bingo," and which have the corporate logo emblazoned all over the place. Plus a convenient little wall of overpriced toys for sale right next to the cubbies.

Is this phenomenon not similar to Channel One still showing in many American classrooms, purportedly airing current events content but also running ads by Coke and Nike and what have you? Are my lefty roots showing and I'm freaking out over a non-existent conspiracy in which The Man tries to imprint my little one's tender brain with corporate logos? Does anyone even talk about The Man anymore?


Suzanne said...

I think the Man is everywhere, trying to insinuate corporate branding into our children's brains so that they will grow up to be good little consumers.

I've never heard of the Pottery Barn thing; that is just creepy.

Joan said...

Speaking of corporate logos I wrote a post about a mom who was taking bids from companies to put a permanent tattoo advertisement on her son's forehead. She started bids at $75,000. I first heard about it on the radio then went to her website. The site is down now. Hopefully social services got involved.
The Man only gets worse. My 13 year old w/the size 13 shoe is convinced Nike makes him a better athlete.

Brony said...

Oh the man is there all right. It's very scary how he'll take over.

Mr. Magoo's class was learning about logos today. He's in grade two and you should see the list they came up with.

Mama D said...

Get em' young. That's their motto.

That is all very strange, yet believable. Since we have neither of those stores hear I am not exposed to such things.

If you ever get any time to read I bet you'd enjoy the book Jennifer Government by Max Barry. It was the first book I'd read in a long time and was terrific. Deals with the future face of 'the man'. Let me know what you think if you read it.

Nikkie said...

That creeps me out too. Do they really have to commercialize everything for crying out loud?

Dawn said...

Nah, as much as I love Gymborees clothes, I found their videos and classes a bit much.

Its hard to compete with the power of ads though - I mean, have you Seen those Bratz ads? Good god.

beth said...

Oh we still talk about the man, you betcha! I tend to avoid all those things. I'm with you though - desperately trying to find things to do that keep Sam out of the cart and me out of my wallet. It's very hard.